I am struck by the enormity of God. Even as I say that, I realize how cliché that sounds yet I am living the revelation of his perfectness in all things related to my life.
Nothing is a mistake. Nothing is in vain. Nothing is chance. Everything has a perfect time in which events and circumstances take place, even bad events. Even difficult circumstances. Everything about my life is and has always been serving a purpose. “But he knows the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” Job 23:10
I have been ruminating over the death of Whitney Houston. Like the rest of the world, I was saddened by her abrupt departure. Her death has affected me in a huge way. Mainly because of her upbringing and her faith in God. Her consequent struggle that so many of us Jesus lovers go through when trying to balancing our love for him and our presence in this world. It is perhaps the most difficult of all struggles, living in the world but hungering and desiring to serve God with all our heart. In the end, Whitney succumbed to the weariness of the struggle. Something that many of us who have struggled understand all too well.
The temptation to give up is astronomical and the courage it takes to stay in the “race” another day doesn’t feel like courage at all. Rather it feels like mere survival. We know in that moment that we are on the edge of a cliff and one false move will cause us to go over. We know that if we quit we will die, in one form or another. That is why her death has been so difficult and humbling to accept. Any of us, at any time, could succumb to the weariness. There is a reason the Bible says, “the race is not given to the fastest or the strongest, but to he who endures until the end.”
I watched in stunned amazement as Whitney told Oprah her feelings about Bobby Brown in Oprah’s “Remembering Whitney Houston.” Her words hit me in the face like a ton of bricks because I was coming out of the same exact emotional place and I could relate in every way. Oprah asked Whitney if she was addicted to the drugs or addicted to Bobby Brown and Whitney replied, “he was my drug.” She followed Bobby Brown down his path of addiction and spiritual darkness. All because he was her “man.” She went on to say that her voice and her success didn’t seem like a big deal to her. It was a former life, one that she no longer lived and yet it was her voice and her music that the world thought of when her name was spoken. How blinded we become when we forget what our purpose is.
If you have never been a slave to hope or a slave to love, you cannot possibly comprehend the ramifications of her words nor her struggle, but for those of us who have, it is easy to identify with and understand just how desperate and how hopeless she and many of us feel when our hopes and dreams become shattered. Hopelessness is the number one reason people fall victim to suicide.
Here is the thing that I think many people miss in her story and in our own lives and the lives of the people we love. It is our faith in God that keeps us in dysfunctional, destructive and helpless relationships and situations. It is erroneous but it is done in faith.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking that my statement sounds like a HUGE contradiction. But stay with me for a minute, I will explain.
You see, for those of us who grew up in church, we were taught that God can do anything and that nothing is too hard for him. We believe that, to the core of our soul and because we have experienced his love and faithfulness to us, we trust him to be in control of our lives. So when we are fall into or walk willingly into a unfavorable position, or when we find ourselves in situations that we want God to change, our faith tells us that HE will change our situation. Our faith tells us he will deliver us. Our faith tells us “if God before us, who can be against us.” Our faith gives us grace to stay in situations we should not stay in. BUT…..we do not realize this as a fallacy when we are in the midst of it. We are exercising our faith and we are still trusting God !
On December 18, 2011 I was given this revelation. I too was in a similar situation as Whitney. I am not by any means comparing our lives, but I am drawing upon the similarities of our faith, and the subsequent obstacles. After all, we are pursuing the same God.
I was in a marriage that I totally believed was appropriated by God. For the first time I was at rest in my spirit and at peace in my life. I had found love and it wasn’t just love that I had found, I had found a man who loved God, who was in fact a man, and who allowed me to be a girl. That in itself is a profound discovery for any woman. However, love was not enough to keep our marriage together. I was facing the great quandary of balancing my love for God and my love for my husband and not knowing what that looked like on a day to day level.
You see, I have never known God without struggle. I have lived my life in survival mode. My success, my looks, my disposition have all been a result of survival. Suddenly, I am happy, from the inside out. Suddenly, I no longer have to struggle to support myself. Suddenly, I no longer cry out to God in loneliness and heartache because I have found love. I have found a husband who fulfills and satisfies me. Little did I know that was coming to an end. My happiness didn’t last long. It wasn’t supposed to. My dependency was on my husband instead of God, but I didn’t know that at the time.
When my marriage began to fall apart, two months into it, I continued to trust God and let him have control, or so I thought. We split up, we got back together, we split up and got back together. We filed for divorce, we called off the divorce, many times. The whole time, I prayed, the whole time, I trusted God to intervene and the whole time, I kept trying to find ways to make it work. I kept trying. I kept trying. I kept trying. Until one day, the lord whispered into my spirit and said, “if you really trust me like you say you do, then you have to trust me in everything and let go of your husband, let go of your marriage and let go of your hope that it is going to work out. Trust me to take care of your husband, and in the meantime, start taking care of yourself and get back to the position I have called you to.”
From that moment on, I have never been the same. I realized that I was the one trying to make my marriage work by “works” by effort. I wasn’t exercising trust in God at all, because if I had been exercising trust, I would have been able to surrender to the loss. In that moment, I realized that I must trust God even if my hope was lost, even if my desire was dying, even if I had to be alone and face the failure of another failed relationship. I had to trust that he knew what was best for me and that if I could let go, he would use if for the good at some future time in my life.
But the grief was all consuming. I was dying inside. I had been mourning my marriage. Mourning my hope of happiness. Mourning my idea’s of my future. I didn’t understand that my hope was in God alone. It should have never been placed in my husband, but I was ignorant of that, until God revealed it to me.
I believe that is the great struggle. We see things happen in our life and we view it as a fulfillment of promise. A place of destiny, and it is. However, just as God did with Abraham, when he required him to sacrifice Isaac, God will always require us to sacrifice what we value the most. It is not some cruel joke, but rather a safe guard against our own demise. Because every physical thing ever created will deteriorate and if our hope and faith and expectation is in the “thing”, the “person” or the “circumstance” then it will have the ability to devastate or destroy us when it deteriorates. But if our hope is in God alone, then we are safeguarded against despair because he is our hope, he is our peace and he is the only real source of love.
So the process is the receiving of the thing we desire, the loss and surrender of that desire and the peace in knowing that God is in control of all things.
Today, two months after I received that revelation to surrender my marriage, I am with my husband at Buttonwillow Raceway watching him do what he loves, ride motorcycle. As I sit and write this blog, I am amazed to realize that the 5 separations and three divorce filings where all part of the process to get me to this place of understanding and dependency on God. We are together as husband and wife and I am forever changed. God performed the miracle I had been praying for. He saved my marriage. But the miracle didn’t take place with my husband, it took place with me. I changed. I understand now what perhaps I was the problem all along. God must always be my source of life and as long as I put him first everything else falls into place.
I think Whitney never got to the stage of surrender. She stayed in the stage of sorrow and mourning for the loss of her marriage, the loss of her husband and the loss of her hope. I am so sorry for her passing, especially because I know it didn’t have to be that way. However, it has prompted so much reflection of my own life and has made me once again thankful for God’s grace and his mindfulness of me. I strive to be ever thankful for another day that I have breath to tell someone else of his goodness.
“Without a vision, the people perish” If we keep our eyes on the only eternal thing that is forever, God, then our vision will never wane and our hope will be eternal. Lord help us all !